“Natty” refers to the way that a kendama is left unpainted, or “natural”. A Natty kendama has no paint at all on the ball, so all of the wood is exposed. Playing a natty kendama can be extremely difficult and is a totally different experience than playing a painted kendama. Since there is no paint, there is no added stickiness or grip that assists in the playability, which makes for a very slick and what some would call “icy” feel when doing balance style tricks. This added challenge that is a feature of a Natty kendama is something that some kendama players love, and is very reminiscent of the kendamas that we used to play, years before kendamas had any kind of grippy or sticky paint added to them.
If this is your first kendama, unless you just absolutely love the way it looks, we recommend going towards something painted, either Sticky or Cushion Clear. This doesn’t have to be a kendama with a design painted on, it could even be one of our Splice Series kendamas, which have no design painted on, but do have a top coat of Cushion Clear added for playability.
Natural kendamas take much longer than painted kendamas to break in, so if you’re looking for a kendama that will do anything you want right out of the box, we would recommend opting for something painted over a Natty. If, however, you’re looking for something that will reward you greatly for the time and effort put into it, the challenge of a Natty might just be for you!